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Home > Lifestyle News > Culture News > Article > Mothers Day 2023 Indian family caregivers share how they will stop at nothing to take care of their sick mothers

Mother’s Day 2023: Indian family caregivers share how they will stop at nothing to take care of their sick mothers

Updated on: 15 May,2023 08:38 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Nascimento Pinto |

On the occasion of Mother’s Day, Mid-day Online spoke to caregivers, who are children of sick mothers, and are taking care of them while juggling their personal and professional lives -- all because they love their mothers so much that they wouldn’t do it any other way

Mother’s Day 2023: Indian family caregivers share how they will stop at nothing to take care of their sick mothers

Every year, the second Sunday of May is celebrated as Mother's Day around the world. Image for representational purpose only. Photo Courtesy: Istock

For Bengaluru-based Anagha Maareesha, her mother being diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2022 came as a big shock to her. What followed is even harder to deal with because it wasn’t something that she had remotely expected. She shares, "It's very difficult to juggle both work and personal life. In fact, I found it impossible. Currently, my mom is undergoing chemotherapy treatment. I made a conscious decision to step away from full time work and take care of my mom." 
Maareesha is one of the many caregivers in India, taking care of their mothers, while balancing their work and personal life. Now, even though it's an uphill task, she isn't giving up any time soon, and neither are the countless others like her, whose love for their mother transcends everything. 
Every year, Mother's Day is observed on the second Sunday of May to celebrate mothers all around the world and the bond they not only share with the family but their children. This year, people around the world will be honouring their mothers on May 14, apart from throughout the year. As mothers are celebrated, one has to admit that parents do get old and sick, and taking care of them falls in the hands of children. Just like that, there are children who are taking care of their mothers in India and around the world, simply because their love for them goes beyond everything they know. 
Navigating through the challenges 
Ever since Maareesha's mother got sick, the 33-year-old has turned into a freelance media professional. She shares, "It gives me the flexibility of time and remote work too. Yes, maybe if I pushed harder, I could have done both, but I had to prioritise, and for me it was mom. It was not easy, and I do understand that I'm lucky that I had the privilege to do so." 
It is no different for Mumbai-based Marina Fernandes, whose mother was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) a few years ago. "Being a caregiver for a terminally ill parent is hard. You want to find a balance between taking care of her, meeting your professional and personal goals and also taking care of work, but it’s very difficult. We work early morning, late nights or on weekends," she shares. While meeting work targets gets done, she says, it often becomes a challenge to convince one’s managers that you are giving your 100 per cent from a work-from-home setup. This is a constant cause for worry for her, only because it concerns job security. However, Fernandes has decided to take it one day at a time, amid the chaos and difficult days. 

Like Fernandes, Durand D’souza, another Mumbaikar has had to shift gears in his life and take care of his mother, who is a chronic diabetic. He shares, “I barely sleep for six hours after coming from night shift because as soon as I come home, I settle myself down and then take out my mother’s medicines, see that her insulin is given on time, plan her meals, and then see to the house and if anything is required to be bought.” While Vasaikar does have 24-hour house help, he has to overlook everything so that nothing goes haywire. While on most days D’souza is juggling everything by himself, he is equally helped by his older siblings, who juggle their family and professional lives, so that they are able to give all their attention to their mother. “Since she has started forgetting things, I have to manage everything including running to the bank, on my weekly offs. Even when I am at work, I am thinking about what I have to do once I reach home. I now plan my whole week in advance,” shares D’souza, while saying how he has had to alter his social life around taking care of his mother.  

On the other hand, Maareesha speaks of another challenge closer to home like D’souza. She shares, "Just seeing my mom in this state takes a huge toll on the whole family emotionally but we also have to be strong and positive for her." The other challenges, she says, are more practical like feeding her food that she wanted to eat and is suitable for her, as well as giving her her medication on time.
All of this has taught the 33-year-old much more than she ever anticipated. "I realised how much my mom was managing and running the house and the kitchen and when she is ill that responsibility falls on me. It's a lot!" she shares. The tasks include buying groceries, domestic help, paying the bills, taking care of the whole family's diet and medications and taking care of guests when they come. "She did all this along with a job. I think there is so much invisible labour that is going on behind the scenes that we don't realise. Only when I took the reins, I understood how much work there is," she adds. 
On the other hand, Fernandes, who deals with different kinds of misconceptions every day, points out the other challenges that the family faces when taking care of her mother. "It is difficult to find the right doctors and nurses who can assist with palliative care," she says, which understandably often poses a challenge for her. As if that wasn't enough, even finding a house helps finding who genuinely takes care of patients, while the likes of her go to work is difficult. "We have worked with agencies and if you are lucky, you will get a good person," she adds. The fact that most places including housing colonies aren't wheelchair-friendly, makes it even more challenging. “We struggle to take mom down for a stroll," she highlights. This is apart from the fact that it is difficult to get prescriptions for medicines like morphine and Ativan is among others. Overall, the 31-year-old working professional says it has also taken a toll on her own health, as she is on the verge of getting diabetes. The lack of social life, like D’souza mentions, means that they have altered their lives around their mother, but all for good reason.
Doing it for their mothers 
While it does seem like a herculean task, Fernandes says her mother is her inspiration. "My mother's gone through so much in life in general, but ensures she follows her daily routine. She makes an effort to sit for an hour every day when she can't even hold her hair straight. Watching her enjoy an IPL match and smiling even in such difficult times just takes it all away." Younger Fernandes also finds hope in close family, friends and colleagues who don’t fail to check up on her, and even help in their own way so that she can take care of her mother. Following other caregivers on Instagram along with WhatsApp support groups, has also made her realise that they aren’t alone in this and have a community they can lean on. “My suggestion to caregivers out there - take care of yourself to be able to take care of them. Don't hesitate to take support, you can't do it all. Mental health is very important, speak to someone if you are really struggling,” shares Fernandes, who also shares how many caregivers often take drastic steps when they can’t take it anymore.  
While her words are inspiring amid challenges, it is quite similar for Bengaluru-based Maareesha. It is simply her love for her mother that keeps her going, like many others. She shares, "I'd do this any time in a heartbeat. The main inspiration is just her. Watching her do all of this for me and for my dad for so many years. It’s totally unfair how much work mothers are just expected to do, just by being mothers and women. It's just assumed and if you don't do it, society deems you a failure."

While D’souza didn’t expect any of this a few years ago, it has made him extremely independent, an aspect of his life which he is thankful for because it had eluded him till his mother got sick. “I never thought that I would have to do all this. My mother used to always tell me early on – become independent,” he laughs, but now that the time has come, the 33-year-old is shouldering the responsibilities like never before. He concludes, “It is tough but at the end of the day, it is your own mother, so you have to do it.”

Also Read: How this Mumbai mom duo is lending a healthy twist to traditional Indian snacks

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